Archive for April 10, 2012
Robert Talbert has blogged twice recently in the theme of requiring computer science for all students in The Chronicle‘s blog. His points, and the discussion in response, are fascinating, since they reflect the perspectives of a wide audience. There are lots of calls in the comments for just teaching computing applications, not programming, and it’s useful to read those perspectives.
The reason I bring this up is that I’m hearing some say, in response to the articles about the CS requirement, that we should require a course in office applications and basic digital literacy for those who come in with lesser technological skill, and that can be their CS course. I think that’s looking at the problem from the wrong end. It seems that we might want a global CS requirement because in this era, the quantity and quality of digital skills that we should expect from students has changed. Office suite proficiency is necessary but no longer sufficient: We want students to be able to program (where “programming” is broadly defined), to articulate how computers and the internet work, and so on. The question ought to be, where do we want students to end up with respect to CS, not where are they now. If we want all students to program — which I think is the true gist of the push to require CS — then let’s aim high, set the goal, and help students get there. (Which involves asking “where are they now”, I know.) But let’s not say that students with low tech proficiencies can’t get there or shouldn’t be expected to get there.